Voting against, not for, a candidate

National Nurses United rally for Improved Medicare for All.

by Barry Hermanson

The November election is not far away. My first vote for president was in 1972. In most elections since then, I have voted against, rather than for, a candidate. “Tens of millions of registered voters did not cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election, and the share who cited a ‘dislike of the candidates or campaign issues’ as their main reason for not participating reached a new high of 25 percent,” according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new Census Bureau data. 

Even if you don’t like the choices or believe voting doesn’t matter, I hope you will vote against, not for, a candidate this November. Don’t leave your choice blank. 

What are our choices? Trump is driving us toward a cliff at full throttle. Biden will take us there a little more slowly. If forced to choose between Trump and Biden, I’ll admit, I’m not suicidal. I will vote. Why should anyone have to make that terrible choice? Persuading Democrats to take their feet off the gas is our job if Biden wins. Voting and reminding those around you to vote is your job until then. 

For info on voting in your state, go to https://www.gotvmoms.com/voteplan. Download and share their voting plan. It provides state by state information about voter registration deadlines, in-person early voting, vote by mail, date the ballot is processed, date the ballot is counted, state election website and links to track your ballot.

Democrats have recently succeeded in blocking Green Party petitions to get on the ballot in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the three states Hillary Clinton narrowly lost in 2016. Democrats refuse to take any responsibility for those losses. They will tell you: Jill Stein on the ballot is the reason Hillary lost. 

It is easier to blame Greens than providing a compelling reason for nonvoters to vote. There will be no one to blame but Democrats if they lose this one.

I want to vote for a candidate for president who is an advocate for the environment. Trump refuses to believe we have a problem. Biden has no sense of urgency. Trump refers to Biden as “Sleepy Joe.” Biden, to his credit, appears to be slowly waking up to the magnitude of the environmental crisis we face.

Biden opposes national health care. Trump is working to overturn Obamacare. Biden advocates for increased military spending from the current Trump budget. This is one of the few issues where Biden is a worse choice than Trump. Both of their proposals fund a bloated military that provides protection to corporate trade interests – the number one protection being to insure the safe movement of oil. Voting against Trump is not a mandate for Biden. 

We need national leadership now! More candidates’ voices need to be heard, not just two that represent major corporate and donor interests. If Trump and Biden are the only choices I have, I will vote against, not for a candidate. 

Even in the middle of a pandemic, there is legislative silence on providing Californians with better health care.

All across the country, Republicans are working to make it harder for you to vote. President Trump said earlier this year that if it was easier to vote, Republicans would never be elected again. This once, I don’t think he’s lying. 

Reports of people waiting in lines at early voting places are encouraging. “California has registered a record high of 21 million voters this year, recording the highest rate of registration since the election of 1940, according to a report from voter data firm Political Data Inc.” 

The most shocking and inhumane: Update

The week of Nov. 10, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case brought by Republicans seeking to overturn Obamacare. Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsberg is projected to support overturning the law. The Economic Policy Institute reports the potential impact of overturning Obamacare: “Across the country, 29.8 million people would lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were repealed – more than doubling the number of people without health insurance. And 1.2 million jobs would be lost – not just in healthcare, but across the board.

The above webpage has information about how many people will lose insurance in your own state, along with the number who will lose their jobs. 

Even in the middle of a pandemic, there is legislative silence on providing Californians with better health care. Gov. Newsom’s recently established Healthy California for All Commission has decided not to meet again until next February. Their final report was initially supposed to be due at that time. 

There will be no legislative action in 2021 while the commission is meeting. Legislators don’t want to take action. The reason given for not meeting until February is: “By that time we should know more about California’s economy, a critical element to any State proposal for health reform, as well as know more about the national landscape.” 

Meanwhile, lives are lost every day – not only to this pandemic, but to the many more ills caused by for-profit health care. Shocking and inhumane. 

Winning universal healthcare will be achieved at a state level before we win it nationally. In California, polls show very strong support. Yet, no legislator is authoring healthcare legislation. 

Democratic legislators in Sacramento have twice used their super majorities in the Assembly and Senate to pass Medicare for All bills, knowing a Republican governor would veto it. When Jerry Brown was elected and Obamacare was passed, legislative action shifted to incremental improvements.

Democrats in Sacramento could take action, but they don’t want to. As a candidate for governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom claimed to be an advocate for an improved Medicare for All. My representatives in the Assembly and Senate both claim to be advocates. One, before he was elected, said it was a personal issue. Like Trump – I think they are lying. 

The massive fires in California have inspired an environmental executive action by the governor and the crafting of legislation by a state senator, both of which negatively impact major Democratic Party donors. The healthcare industry is also a major donor and lobbyist in Sacramento. What does it take for legislators to wake up to the healthcare crisis we face? 

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is top down on the issue of healthcare reform. National leadership dictates the agenda and corporate interests are protected.

I joined this fight 20 years ago as a member of Single Payer Now. SPN founder Don Bechler has always said this issue will be determined at the ballot box. I agree. Too many politicians in both parties take donations from the healthcare industry.

Don also says we need to identify 5 million voters as supporters. More than 14 million voted in the last presidential election in California and it takes 50 percent plus 1 to win. 

Polls indicate we have the support to win. Can we identify 7 million California voters? That is our challenge. It is the only way we will win better health care at a lower price for everyone in California, and it’s an enormous organizing challenge. In the meantime: Please vote.

Barry Hermanson is a Green Party of California Coordinating Committee member, GPCA representative to Healthy California Now, a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer Medicare For All system in California. He is a former small business owner. Contact him at Barry@Hermansons.com or 415-255-9494.